Wood turtles are found in northeastern parts of the United States and adjacent areas of Canada. These turtles hunt for food both on land and in the water, which gives them a great variety of foods to choose from. So, what do wood turtles eat? What are their favorite foods? Keep reading as we explore the answers to these questions and more!
What You'll Learn Today
Is the North American Wood Turtle an Omnivore?
Like many other types of turtles, wood turtles consume a wide variety of foods. Because they consume both plant-based and meat-based foods, they are considered omnivores.
Wood turtles don’t appear to be picky when it comes to finding their next meal. They will eat whatever they can find, as long as it is readily available and easy to catch or gather.
This means that wood turtles are opportunistic omnivores–they will eat whatever they have the opportunity to eat.
Of course, they are pretty small, growing to less than 10 inches in diameter at their largest. For this reason, they have a relatively limited number of foods they can eat.
So, what do they eat, exactly?
What Do Wood Turtles Eat?
Wood turtles may be limited by what they can catch and fit in their mouths, but they can still eat lots of different foods. Some of these foods include:
- Mosses: Moss is abundant near rivers and other bodies of water, where wood turtles prefer to live. They will eat various types of moss to supplement their diet of meat and other plants.
- Algae: As with moss, algae grows abundantly in and around the water. Wood turtles can easily scoop up mouthfuls of it as they swim along.
- Grasses: Wood turtles will eat a variety of grasses that grow near their homes. They are often found in hay fields foraging for grass and other food sources.
- Fruits: Wood turtles eat a variety of wild fruits. These can include strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, crabapples, and whatever else they can find in their native environments.
- Vegetables: Wood turtles may also consume any vegetables they find in the wild, as well as in gardens that they find growing near their homes. These vegetables may include wild tubers, cattails, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and other garden produce.
- Fungi: Occasionally, wood turtles will eat certain types of mushrooms and other fungi. Though these do not make up a large portion of their diet, they do provide tasty and nutritional supplements.
- Insects: Wood turtles eat a wide variety of insects. These can include beetles, crickets, flies, grasshoppers, water striders, ants, and caterpillars.
- Invertebrates: They also enjoy eating invertebrates that don’t necessarily fall under the category of insects. These can include slugs, snails, earthworms, leeches, spiders, and more.
- Other meat: Wood turtles will eat other sources of meat that are available to them and small enough for them to catch. These may include tadpoles, small rodents, small birds, and fish.
- Carrion: Wood turtles will even eat larger animals that have previously died or been killed. Carrion is an easy food source that provides them with an abundance of meat, yet does not require them to expend a lot of effort in hunting for it.
What Do Captive Wood Turtles Eat?
Some people keep wood turtles as pets. If you have a pet wood turtle, you may be wondering what is best to feed it.
Like their wild counterparts, captive wood turtles consume a wide variety of foods, including:
- Fruits: The number of fruits available to them in captivity is much greater than in the wild. They will eat nearly any kind of fruit you offer them, including mangos, melons, berries, apples, and pears.
- Vegetables: Wood turtles can also eat a variety of vegetables, such as spinach, lettuce, boiled carrots, and frozen vegetable mixes that have been thawed.
- Meat-based foods: Captive wood turtles will eat almost any kind of meat that is offered to them, including raw or cooked beef, chicken, or fish. They will also eat canned cat or dog food, crickets or mealworms, hard-boiled eggs, and mice or minnows purchased from a feed or bait shop.
What is a Wood Turtle’s Favorite Food?
Considering wood turtles consume so many different foods, you may be wondering if any one food group could be considered their favorite.
It’s true that wood turtles are not picky and will consume just about anything. But they do seem to show a preference for certain foods over others.
In particular, wood turtles seem to enjoy eating berries. They have been known to travel long distances to find wild strawberry patches or blackberry bushes.
Aside from berries, however, they generally seem to prefer meat-based meals over plant-based foods. They especially like slugs and earthworms, which are easy to catch and more filling than plant-based foods.
Again, though, wood turtles will eat whatever they can find in a given place and during a particular season.
Check out this pair of captive wood turtles eating lunch together.
Wood turtles are opportunistic omnivores–they eat a wide variety of both plant- and meat-based foods depending on what they can find in their environment. Some of their favorite foods include berries, slugs, and earthworms, but they will also eat foods like moss, mushrooms, tadpoles, mice, and carrion.